By Ben Morse
In 2011, terror overtakes the Marvel Universe as Fear Itself envelops its heroes and villains.
To delve deeper into what lies at the root of this climactic event, each week in Fear Files we will speak with Marvel’s biggest creators about exactly what frightens the premiere heroes and villains whose lives they guide.
This week, we speak to Matt Fraction, writer of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN and architect of the Fear Itself event about Iron Man, one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes and a man who doesn’t have to cast his memory back far to relive his worst nightmares…
What is Iron Man most afraid of?
Matt Fraction: Y'know, I did a whole book about that.
He's afraid of losing control over his life. That the Iron Man technology or comparable is made by people other than him. That someone else will start piloting an Iron Man-level piece of weaponry. That the Iron Man becomes disposable, cheap, and replaceable.
And that all of those things have already happened.
Really the roadmap for my whole run is there in [INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1], the first issue of “The Five Nightmares.”
In Fear Itself he finds something brand new to be afraid of: magic. The ultimate man of science confronts nightmarish events that can only be called "miraculous..."
We’ve seen Tony’s fear of magic in the past; despite the fact that he’s spent years around it, what about the mystic side of his world scares Tony so much?
Matt Fraction: He's never encountered a tragedy on the magnitude he does in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #504. Or maybe he's never let himself really think about it before. Anyway he's got to deal with a massive catastrophe of an entirely miraculous, or magical, or "isn't-explainable-by-science-at-all"—and it really disturbs him, trying to explain the unexplainable. To really confront the idea of "God" or “gods” walking among us—for a futurist, for a man of science and technology, it could be his unraveling.
Does having confronted many of his worst fears in recent times make Tony more confident he can face them or more on guard for new concerns?
Matt Fraction: I think it shows him just how little he really knows or understands.
Is fear something Tony uses as fuel or is something that holds him back?
Matt Fraction: Neither, I don't think. Fear is something that hunts him down, in a way. He's constantly trying to manage it.
Being the personality type he is what measures does Tony take to manage fear pro-actively?
Matt Fraction: I think it's why he's a super hero. I think it's why he puts on the Iron Man and gets to work.
If that outlet—being Iron Man—were taken away from him, do you think fear is something that could crush Tony Stark or would he find another way to manage it?
Matt Fraction: We'll just have to see, won't we?
Tony has been through so much over the last few years that the paranoia has to be building for him—will there be any sort of break or calm ahead to reassure him?
Matt Fraction: Absolutely not. Every month, literally every single issue, Tony's world is getting rocked. Things are coming at Tony as fast as they can, and the ultimate futurist is going to be dealing with more shocks and twists and revelations than he's ever had to before, all while the Serpent runs rampant over the world.
Will Iron Man be able to push forward into the future without letting apprehension hold him back? Find out in Fear Itself and join us next week for another installment of Fear Files.
For more information on Fear Itself, visit the official event page